NCEF Resource List: Healthy School Environments
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Information on healthy and environmentally safe school facilities, compiled by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities. See also NCEF Resource Lists on Indoor Air Quality, Hazardous Materials, Green Cleaning, Pesticides and IPM, Mold in Schools, and more.

References to Books and Other Media

Green Clean Schools
(National Association of State Boards of Education, Feb 2012)
Ten states now have laws or policies regarding green cleaning in schools. The National Association of State Boards of Education highlights these state actions and many other facets of green cleaning and healthy school buildings in the February 2012 edition of its journal, the State Education Standard. Includes the following articles: Existing and Emerging Third-Party Certifications Programs; Making Green Cleaning Easy for Local School Boards; Roadmap to Implementing Green Cleaning in Districts and Schools; State Governments: Promoting Green Cleaning in Schools;Three Case Studies in Green Cleaning; Why Green Clean Our Schools?

Are Schools Making Kids sick?
Martin, David S.
(CNN, Jan 16, 2012)
Reports on how school air is sickening students in schools. Describes a New York study that finds correlation between building maintenance and illness. Refers to studies that estimate one-third of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems. Profiles a Connecticut school that was so plagued with mold officials decided to tear it down. Provides five simple checkpoints for problems: mold; dust; idling buses; heating/air conditioning units; certified green cleaning products. Includes a video showing parents outrage when sickness shuts a school in the Bronx, New York.

EPA: Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool, Version 2[HealthySEAT]
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2012)
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's second version of a free software tool that helps school districts evaluate and manage their school facilities for key environmental, safety, and health issues. HealthySEAT is designed to be customized and used by district-level staff to conduct voluntary self-assessments of their school facilities and to track and manage information on environmental conditions school by school. EPA has also included critical elements of all of its regulatory and voluntary programs for schools, as well as web links to more detailed information. Enhancements for Version 2 include user-defined custom checklists, custom notification letters, additional and updated reports and forms, new navigation improvements, e-mail functionality, changes in terminology, and additional documentation.

EPA: Healthy School Environments Resources
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2012)
These web pages are intended to serve as a gateway to on-line resources to help facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, parents, teachers and staff address environmental health issues in schools. Topics covered include chemical use and management; design, construction, and renovation; energy efficiency; facility operations and maintenance; indoor environmental quality; legislation and regulation; outdoor air pollution; portable classrooms; safety/preparedness; waste; and waste reduction.

EPA: IAQ Design Tools for Schools
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2012)
Website developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help school districts and facility planners find the information resources they need to design new school facilities, and repair existing facilities. Topics include: high performance schools, school siting, pre-design, materials selection, HVAC, controlling pollutants, moisture control, construction, commissioning, operations and maintenance, renovation and repair, portable classrooms, IAQ Tools for Schools.

Improved Academic Performance. Student Health and Academic Performance: Using Research to Make the Case for Comprehensive IAQ Management in Schools.
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, IAQ Tools for Schools. , 2012)
Provides links to research reports that link key environmental factors to health outcomes and students’ ability to perform. Includes the latest scientific data on indoor environmental quality, health and academic performance. Discusses why the physical environment of a school is important; what environmental factors are important and practical to address; and how much improvement can be expectec in academic performance and health.

Proximity of Public Elementary Schools to Major Roads in Canadian Urban Areas
Amram, Ofer; Abernethy, Rebecca; Brauer, Michael; Davies, Hugh; and Allen, Ryan W
(International Journal of Health Geographics , Dec 21, 2011)
Epidemiologic studies have linked exposure to traffic-generated air and noise pollution with a wide range of adverse health effects in children. Children spend a large portion of time at school, and both air pollution and noise are elevated in close proximity to roads, so school location may be an important determinant of exposure. No studies have yet examined the proximity of schools to major roads outside of the US. Data on public elementary schools in Canada's 10 most populous cities were obtained from online databases. School addresses were geocoded and proximity to the nearest major road, defined using a standardized national road classification scheme, was calculated for each school. Based on measurements of nitrogen oxide concentrations, ultrafine particle counts, and noise levels in three Canadian cities we conservatively defined distances <75 m from major roads as the zone of primary interest. Census data at the city and neighborhood levels were used to evaluate relationships between school proximity to major roads, urban density, and indicators of socioeconomic status. Conclusions: asubstantial fraction of students at public elementary schools in Canada, particularly students attending schools in low income neighborhoods, may be exposed to elevated levels of air pollution and noise while at school. As a result, the locations of schools may negatively impact the healthy development and academic performance of a large number of Canadian children. [Authors' abstract]

Healthy, High Performance School Facilities: Developments in State Policy.
(Environmental Law Institute, Jul 2011)
Brief summaries of state laws, executive orders and other formal policies that address healthy, high performance school design and construction. Most of these policies reference either the LEED rating system or the CHPS criteria as the green building standard to be met by covered school construction projects.

The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America's Schools.
(USA Today , Jun 2011)
This special report website includes articles and videos on air pollution at America's school sites. An overlay of school site and Environmental Protection Agency air pollution data provides a tool for finding a school and its air quality standing. A map illustrates clusters of schools where toxic air is the highest.

EPA: Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools.
(Environmental Protection Agency, Apr 26, 2011)
Provides information on an EPA initiative to monitor outdoor air around schools. The project will collect samples of outdoor air near selected schools over 60 days, analyze those samples for air toxics of potential concern, report on levels of air toxics found and their potential for long-term health impacts, evaluate actions that may be needed to reduce levels of pollutants of concern, and take action as needed to ensure that nearby industries are in compliance with clean air regulations. When monitoring results are available, EPA will post them on this site. This webpage also provides information on the schools where monitoring will occur, background information on air toxics, and links to other programs EPA has in place to protect communities and school environments.

Managing Indoor Air Quality. Fifth Edition
Burroughs, H.E.; Hansen, Shirley J.
(Fairmont Press, Apr 2011)
Practical, hands-on reference guide on applicable air quality control measures and preventative strategies. Includes complete response and step-by-step investigation tactics and tools. Specific symptoms of building-associated illnesses are detailed, along with practical guidelines for identifying and controlling the associated pollutant or source of the problem. Provides the results of a decade of new indoor air quality research and experience, as well as updated references and contacts, an update on standards, a new chapter on filtration, the latest research results on causes of indoor air quality problems, and innovative new investigation strategies. 350p.

Environmental Law Institute Database of State Indoor Air Quality Laws, Database Excerpt: IAQ in Schools. Updated.
(Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC , Feb 2011)
Presents a collection of laws in the Institute's database that deal with school indoor air quality. The chart includes laws that address schools directly or exclusively, but does not include general laws that may also affect schools. States without such laws are not represented in the chart, and the list does not claim to be exhaustive compilation. 23p.

Children's Health and Chemical Exposure: Beginning Risks Adobe PDF
(Air Quality Sciences, Inc. Atlanta, GA, Jan 2011)
Examines the implications of chemical exposure and indoor air quality (IAQ) on children's health, as well as the ways by which physical differences, socioeconomic status, and activity patterns increase overall risk. 23p

Cleaning for Healthy Schools Toolkit.
(National Collaborative Work Group on Green Cleaning and Chemical Policy Reform in Schools , 2011)
Offers learning modules designed to introduce all audiences to the concept of green cleaning and cleaning for healthy schools. The Toolkit is an open-source, industry-free, customizable, comprehensive program to safeguard human health, reduce exposures to chemicals, and cost-effectively improve the performance of cleaning programs.

Investing in Our Children's Future: Building Sustainable Environmental Health Programs in Our Schools. Adobe PDF
Grevatt, Peter
Educational Facility Planner; v45 n3 , p29-31 ; 2011
Reviews major tenets concerning the contribution of a healthy school environment to academic achievement. Ten references are included.

Performance Evaluation of Indoor Environment towards Sustainability for Higher Educational Buildings Adobe PDF
Khalil, Natasha; Husin, Husrul Nizam; Wahab, Lilawati Ab; Kamal, Kamarul Syahril; Mahat, Noorsaidi
(US-China Education Review , 2011)
The indoor environmental factors considered in higher educational building must be determined in order to meet the user's requirement. Disruption of indoor environment may reduce occupants' efficiencies and their learning process and activities. But the question is, how to ensure that the provision of indoor environmental aspects achieves high satisfaction to the building user. Therefore, POE (post occupancy evaluation) is a prominent tool that indicates satisfaction and comfort level needs by the building occupants as lessons learned to identify problems in the indoor environment. The information of the building's condition is gained by reviewing what the occupants' feelings are and how they response to their needs by using and occupying the building. With relation to the title, the main aim of this study is to determine the occupants' satisfaction levels and the probability of learning process, which can be affected due to poor environmental conditions, based on analytical study on concept and process of POE. A survey on occupants' satisfaction of 100 students in University Technology of MARA, Perak, Malaysia, has revealed that there is significance of providing good quality of indoor environmental conditions, that will affect the learning process of the students. It is concluded that POE is effective to be used in evaluating performance of environmental conditions in a building, especially to apply the relative impact of aspects towards the design of future buildings. By introducing POE in evaluating environmental conditions in higher educational buildings, it is hoped that it helps to move the industry towards sustainable, healthy and comfortable learning areas. [Authors' abstract]

References to Journal Articles

Planning for a Healthier School Facility
Belew, Rachel
Educational Facility Planner; v46 n1 , p46-48 ; Jun 2012
Recommends that facility planners and managers specify low-emitting nontoxic products, called source control, for healthier schools. Reviews VOCs, children and poor indoor air quality, chemicals in green building, and other steps to good IAQ.

Guide to Asthma Policy for Schools
(American Lung Association , Apr 2012)
Identifies strategies to help support schools as they create an asthma-friendly learning environment for students, teachers, and staff. Includes tip-sheets, webinars, and an environmental assessment and management plan.

Associations between the School Environment and Adolescent Girls' Physical Activity
Kirby, Joanna; Levin, Kate A.; Inchley, Jo
Health Education Research; v27 n1 , p101-114 ; 2012
This paper explores school sports facility provision, physical education allocation and opportunities for physical activity and their association with the number of days adolescent girls participate in at least 60 min of moderate-vigorous physical activity per week (MVPAdays). Data were collected through self-administered questionnaires from Scottish secondary school girls and head teachers participating in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children 2005/06 study. Compared with schools with no after school clubs, girls who attended schools with activities at least 1 day per week were likely to have increased MVPAdays. PE allocation and extra-curricular clubs are likely to be of greater importance to girls' participation than school facilities per se. This study demonstrates how schools can maximize their environment to increase girls' PA and offers encouraging findings for those with limited sports facilities. [Authors' abstract]

A Safe Environment
Pratachandran, Sarat
School Planning and Management; Dec 2011
Discusses the EPA's first-ever federal guidelines for locating school facilities that encourage high-performance schools, stress the importance of locating schools near populations and infrastructure and promote schools as diverse centers of communities. They urge communities to consider children's ability to walk to school, access to public transportation and how to locate schools away from potential environmental hazards.

Fit Faculty for Fit Facilities.
Moore, J.P.
School Planning and Management; v50 n8 , p30,31 ; Aug 2011
Compares building health to human physical health, emphasizing that preventive maintenance is as necessary to buildings as it is to humans.

Restroom Hygiene: A Clean Record.
Dixon, Maurice
Maintenance Solutions; v19 n7 , p16,18 ; Jul 2011
Recognizes the importance of clean and sanitary restrooms. Crews must have effective tools and resources, gloves and goggles, germicidal detergents, cleaning supplies for mirrors and other fixtures, microfiber cloths, instruction on properly mixing cleaners and disinfectants, and appropriate method fo refilling soap dispensers.

Designed to Curb Obesity.
Pratapchandran, Sarat
School Planning and Management; v50 n6 , p41-47 ; Jun 2011
Argues that convenience-based school design must be reconsidered and advocates design that encourages greater activity and physical movement in the drive to curb obesity.

Naturally Green.
Kramer, Sue
American School and University; v83 n7 , p42-44 ; Mar 2011
Notes that needs of maintaining clean and sanitary restrooms can go unnoticed, and that some administrators are unconvinced that green products are affordable and efficacious. The article documents that green restroom cleaning products can improve indoor air quality (IAQ), which has a very positive impact on student performance; and use of green products reduces the chemical inventory and storage locations in the school. Best practices for use are described, as is a plan for making the products cost-effective.

Methodology for Assessing Exposure and Impacts of Air Pollutants in School Children: Data Collection, Analysis and Health Effects – A Literature Review.
Mejiaa, Jaime; Choyb, Samantha; Mengersen, Kerrie; Morawska, Lidia
Atmospheric Environment; v 45, n4 , 813-823 ; Feb 2011
Explores the methodologies employed to assess the exposure of children to air pollutants, in particular traffic emissions, at school, and how these methodologies influence the assessment of the impact of this exposure on the children’s health. This involves four main steps: the measurement of air quality at school level, the association between measured air quality and children’s exposure, the association between children’s exposure and health; and source identification. The comparative advantages and disadvantages of the methods used at each of these steps are discussed.[author's abstract]

Transforming Pedagogical Ethos into an Effective Learning Environment.
Guldbaek, Jens; Vinkel, Hanna; Broens, Mie
CELE Exchange; n2011/3 ; Jan 2011
Compares the deleterious effect of standardized education to the poor health of a fast food diet. School design should reflect deliberation on how individuals learn and how school facilities will make that process possible.



Due to lack of funding, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities is currently available only as an archived site. As of September 1, 2012 no new content will be added or updates made. We regret the need to take such steps, but should funding become available, we look forward to reinvigorating NCEF and providing this valuable resource to the educational facilities community.

If you have questions or are an organization or company wishing to support the continued operation of this industry recognized resource please contact Institute President Henry Green (, 202-289-7800).

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